Some things that make me happy: autonomy to catch a cab by myself and tell the driver, in Spanish (or the local language of wherever I am), where I want to go and to find my way around the neighborhood to a bodega and supermarket; converse with my roommate and a member of my host family about places we’ve visited around the world; finishing an in-depth article that’s taken scores of hours.
Last night I visited a neighborhood I’ve never encountered, the so-called bohemian barrio of Barranco
. We met on the square and walked to Javier
, an oceanfront restaurant. There I met up with an English woman, freelance writer, and a new Peruvian friend for maracuyas sours (a cocktail of the local alcohol called pisco and passionfruit juice).We discussed surfing through sewage here in Lima, entertaining cultural differences between Westerns and Indonesians, whale watching on a boat from Boston to Canada, and religious manipulation attempts by Indians. We sat on the top floor of the restaurant, a terrace encumbered by no architecture to allow us to hear and see the smiling waves hit the Pacific shore. A slight breeze blew, causing us to need a light jacket, and recorded local music played softly in the background. A good time had by all. I wanted it to continue but my friends are early risers– surfing and whale watching, of course, so I returned home and read Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt
At the bodega today I located a trial-sized tube of toothpaste, much needed since I ran out today. Why not buy a regular sized tube? One awaits me in a package I sent myself to Peru whilst still in Ohio. Evidently a box of books, clothes, and toiletries are something to hold up in Peruvian customs.
Then I made my way to the supermarket. Multiple bottles of Coke Zero, veggie snacks, and beer were called for. At the cashier I encountered a problem. Something about one of the two beers was evidently not going home with me. Reasons remain unknown. The cashier has no English and spoke Spanish so rapidly that I must have looked at her like she had seven heads. Making the request of ‘Despacio’ (slow), when trying to speak Spanish has repeatedly proven ineffective; they continue to speak a million miles per hour. Even when I returned home and asked my host mother about why such a thing would happen, she thought it ‘raro’ (strange).
Anyway, my listening is improving, though the previous example doesn’t indicate that. When speaking with the host family I’m forced to speak and hear Spanish. It’s a splendid means of indoctrination, one I’m truly enjoying. The Spanish is indeed getting deep enough for me to partially dream and think, and even sing American songs, in it. In fact, my daily use of it has squeezed the Hindi and Chinese words out of my daily vocab.
Then there was the completion of the article. I’ve spoken to some 20 people from coast to coast of Los Estados Unidos over the course of three weeks. The information was difficult to contain in 2,000 words but at last, I succeeded. There is no feeling like completing an in-depth article and sending off an invoice. Admittedly it put a little swagger in my step.
Finally having a proper conversation with my young American male roommate also lifted the day. It had occurred to me over the past two days that he was intimidated by me. It actually stirred memories of my earliest moments with Nicolas, the love of my life who’s seven years younger than me. I’m not exactly sure what caused him to commence speaking in full sentences and for a long period with me, but I’m enjoying it. We do, after all, share a bathroom! Maybe I’ll share my sole beer with him tonight….